Monday, November 21, 2011

When Things Go Wrong

I was unhappy with a retail experience this week and how that retailer handled things is, to me, a course in what NOT to do!

My bestie and I LOVE cupcakes! We are endlessly fascinated by all the cupcake businesses that have sprung up around the LA area and even more fascinated that no less than three cupcake shows are now on television. Since there are so many cupcake vendors in So Cal and the fact that the show Cupcake Wars is filmed here in La La Land, we often know some of the shops on that show.

It's fun to see shops we know and love do well and we marveled at the one shop that made it through a couple of rounds when we think their icing always tastes like soap! So it was with great anticipation that we read one of the local winners of the show, Goodie Girls, was opening a shop. It was to be a big shindig with celebs and a pink carpet and press and a 5 p.m. opening party.

Knowing that I'm handicapped... numerous foot surgeries make it impossible for me to stand in long lines... I wrote on the store's Facebook Fan page "What time do you open?" My thinking was... what business opens at 5? Surely they are opening earlier and I can avoid the line (and the prizes and the celebs) and just pick up some tasty cupcakes if I go earlier in the day.

The owner quickly wrote back... 3 pm. Great! We had a plan.

Only it was pouring down rain Sunday, making our journey down our mountain treacherous and scary. We arrived early and waited a good half hour in the car... a block away. We got soaked getting in the store that was already full of people. But no one seemed to be shopping or eating. We asked the person up front where to buy. We were told that this time was for celebs or press ONLY. I was made to feel like the gum on someone's shoe.

I repeated that the owner herself told me they would be open at 3 and couldn't we just buy a few. Instead we were shown the door. I was pissed, wet and embarrassed.

And what happened next is a Marketing 101 FAIL.

I took to Facebook and Twitter to voice my concern and embarrassment. The owner did apologize, but she and her father and her friend all made excuses:

  • Dad:  Starting your own business is very costly. And shes doing what she can to move up to the next level.
  • The owner: The girls that were up front were just getting started and they knew we were only doing press/media until 5pm and then we were selling cupcakes after 5pm .
  • I had chose to start at 5pm so the talent/media would be done with there [sic] part and it would make it easier for my fellow residents to get some.
  • they didn't know if they were allowed to sell as we were supposed to start at 5pm.
  • it is my first store and I can only do so much and it's all a learning experience 
  • not one person other than yourself had bad reviews or a bad time.
  •  I am a small local business trying and contributing to the Glendale community, helping people have a few more jobs, and I contribute a TON for charity. It's a shame that you have so much anger.    
  • I can't control what they did.
  • Her friend: Mistakes happen in life and it takes a bigger person to forgive and forget.   
 To me, the very WET person who was made to feel like a second class citizen after wasting an hour and a half of my time and gas, this is nothing but excuses and INSULTS. Never once did the owner say why she told me, a fan page person, that her business was open at 3.

What IS a business owner to do in this age of facebook and twitter??? Here's my guide...

  1. Publicly apologize - on the selected media... Facebook / Twitter, et al. Keep it brief and sweet!
  2. ONLY apologize or offer to make it better - don't insult someone and tell them they are too angry (it only makes them angry whether or not they were before!), don't point out what a good time others had or how nice the gift bags were. Just apologize, ask sweetly for another opportunity and leave it at that. 
  3. Keep others out of it - While you can't do anything about legit customers coming to your defense, keep your parents and close friends out of it...even if you have to delete their messages. It can make a customer feel attacked!
  4. Take it offline - Send them a personal and PRIVATE apology. If you offer a coupon or discount, do that privately as well. This may prevent other public attacks if there is no public payoff.
  5. Drop it - if all the comments stop, there is nothing more for them to respond to. Most people just want to feel heard. That's IT. Hear them, let them know you hear them with sincerity and it will go away. 


Kandy Disenos said...

It really has been an unpleasant experience, I hope soon pass this bad time ...

all that glitters said...

That is crappy, i hope there customer care improves otherwise it won't matter how many press were there and then they will see it's people like us that just want a cupcake that will keep there doors open

Glitterbird Glamour said...

Wow, how unfortunate. I would never return to their store.

CalliopeCreations said...

You may not profit from it but my guess is that you really shook them up and I'll bet they've clarified their opening times or revised their policies.

Too late for your trip but you've probably done a favor for others.

What dummies. Why didn't they just apologize and offer you some free cupcakes for goodwill?

new creationz said...

What a great example of how NOT to run a business. Sorry you had to experience this.

Over The Moon Gifts said...

how rude! That's no way to get her business off the ground. Sorry you had a bad experience :(

MagicByLeah said...

Wow, if she was able to take the time to reply on facebook, that means she is NOT too big to help a potential customer. Did she at least offer to compensate you with a goody basket? perhaps a free cupcake to make up for your troubles??
I had an order mix-up some time ago and sent the customer A DOUBLE order with my apologies

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Geez, I should've titled that... when I can't Spell!

IsabellesAttic said...

that is so unfair, they should have given you a free cupcake at least for your troubles for checking out her new shop